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New RSA survey shows more young people are admitting to drink driving.
New RSA survey shows more young people are admitting to drink driving.
Image: Shutterstock/George Rudy

'They've more money in their pockets': Alarming rise in young people admitting to drink driving

Sixteen percent of people under the age of 24 say they have driven a car after consuming alcohol.
Aug 7th 2017, 6:30 AM 18,482 28

THE INCREASE IN the number of young people admitting to drink driving in the last 12 months is “alarming”, according to the Road Safety Authority (RSA).

A new survey of 1,000 respondents shows that 16% of people under the age of 24 say they have driven a car after consuming alcohol.

This is a significant jump from the 2016 survey in which just 7% of people admitted to drink driving, while only 4% answered yes in 2015.

Back in their cars 

“Our research shows there has been an increase in the number of young people having alcohol and getting behind the wheel of a car. We have done this survey for three years in a row and it has gone from 4% to 7% and alarmingly this year 16% of under 24s have admitted to taking alcohol and getting behind the wheel of a car.

“That is probably because we see an uplift in the economy, they have more money in their pockets and they’re back in their cars and they are driving and this is where we are trying to get the message across to young adults,” RSA chief executive Moyagh Murdock told TheJournal.ie.

While she said the message that nobody should ever drink and drive is being conveyed through such road safety campaigns as Crashed Lives (where Jillian and Ronan Tracey shared their own personal tragedy of how they lost their son to a drink driver), it is concerning that younger people are not heeding the message.

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

Younger drivers are far more riskier by nature. They take more chances. They are inexperienced – and put alcohol on that as well, it is just a recipe for disaster.

“They are going to go out and kill themselves and kill other innocent road users,” said Murdock, who appealed to parents to sit down and talk to their young adult children about the risks.

Parents need to talk to their young adult children 

“We are trying to get the message across to this age group and also to the parents of the under 24s – as some of them may be using the family car on the night out. Just because someone says they are driving tonight, it does not automatically mean that they are going to abstain from drink.

“As a society we have to be aware that people do take chances and we need to address it across the board, not just as individuals, but as friends and as family members, and to be alert to somebody who may be close to us engaging in that risky behaviour,” she said.

Garda Chief Superintendent Aidan Reid said on a monthly basis an average of 740 people are being arrested for being under influence, which he described as a “staggering number”.

However, he said gardaí are particularly concerned about the research relating to younger drivers.

“The amount of young persons who are being detected for driving under the influence – they are just not listening. The majority of people do listen and do take heed of the message and never ever drink and drive,” he said.

“We have to tackle this early on in the early career of drivers – particularly young male drivers – because this is across all demographics and across all areas of the country. We have seen improvements in Dublin, but we have to address the issue across the country,” said Murdock.

How much alcohol can you consume?

Of all respondents to the survey, 10% of Irish drivers admitted to drink driving in the past year.

Of this group, and despite the survey results, 23% answered that they had a “no alcohol” policy before driving.

Meanwhile, of the same group, 25% said they agreed that having one drink before driving was acceptable, while 18% said three drinks or more was okay.

A total of 16% said they believed two drinks before driving was allowed.

Read: Shane Ross to ‘name and shame’ drink-drivers by the end of this year>

Read: Drivers caught for minor road offences will now face a drink driving breath test>

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Christina Finn

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